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Two Ex-FBI Agents Say the Agency Should Have Done More to Head Off Mortgage Fraud Disaster

Sure the FBI saw this mortgage mess way back when. And sure it was clear it didn’t have enough resources to deal with it. But back then it wasn’t a disaster. Now it is. And that’s our nature: we seldom address things until they become a crisis. Now we’ve got us a real crisis. Now the FBI wants more resources to deal with it all.

By PAUL SHUKOVSKY
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
SEATTLE — The FBI was aware for years of “pervasive and growing” fraud in the mortgage industry that eventually contributed to America’s financial meltdown, but did not take definitive action to stop it.
“It is clear that we had good intelligence on the mortgage-fraud schemes, the corrupt attorneys, the corrupt appraisers, the insider schemes,” said a recently retired, high FBI official. Another retired top FBI official confirmed that such intelligence went back to 2002.
The problem, according to the two FBI retirees and several other current and former bureau colleagues, is that the bureau was stretched so thin that no one noticed when those lenders began packaging bad mortgages into bad securities.
“We knew that the mortgage-brokerage industry was corrupt,” the first of the retired FBI officials told the Seattle P-I. “Where we would have gotten a sense of what was really going on was the point where the mortgage was sold knowing that it was a piece of dung and it would be turned into a security. But the agents with the expertise had been diverted to counterterrorism.”
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